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Thu, 07 Dec 2023
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US: Washington State Closes Tourism Office Over Budget Woes

© Reuters
Tourists walk by as street musicians Slimpickins play in front of the first Starbucks store located at historic Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington.
The state of Washington formally shuttered its tourism office on Friday, a move that helps close deep budget deficits but makes it the only U.S. state no longer spending money to attract visitors.

The remaining $2 million expected to fund the tourism office over the next year was cut by a vote of the Washington state legislature in May as part of the budget that Governor Christine Gregoire signed into law on June 15.

Gregoire first proposed ending tourism funding in December, as the state faced a $5.2 billion budget gap.

"It would be incredibly difficult to use taxpayer dollars to support our tourism office, while at the same time make significant cuts to education and health care," Gregoire spokeswoman Karina Shagren said.

"(The governor) is working closely with the private sector to ensure potential visitors continue to know about the attractions and the beautiful natural wonders found in Washington state," Shagren said.


US: Anonymous, Food Not Bombs to test Orlando police Monday by feeding homeless

Hacker activists with the protest group "Anonymous" have in recent weeks taken down over a half-dozen major Orlando, Florida-based websites and spammed tens of thousands of unsolicited faxes all over the city as a response to an ordinance that prohibits feeding homeless people in public parks.

In a release Friday on the progress of what they called "Operation Orlando," the group insisted that its efforts were in no way connected to the activists with Food Not Bombs (FNB), who've been arrested for feeding the homeless in a city park.

Keith McHenry, who helped found the group 30 years ago, was arrested last week and is still imprisoned. McHenry's view is that food is a right, not a privilege, so he and the group refused to abide by the law.

Eye 1

DA has evidence Strauss-Kahn bruised maid's vagina

The attorney for the maid allegedly raped by Dominique Strauss-Kahn surprised experts with a half-hour press conference Friday after The New York Times reported that his client had lied to prosecutors.

Kenneth Thompson said that the New York County District Attorney had an "obligation" to prosecute Strauss-Kahn because the physical evidence of a violent attack was irrefutable.

"Dominique Strauss-Kahn came out running out of one of those rooms naked, towards her and he grabbed her breasts first and started to attack her," Thompson explained. "He then grabbed her vagina with so much force that he hurt her. He grabbed her vagina with so much force that he bruised her vagina."

Light Saber

Fresh protests break out in Egypt


Strikes and protests are breaking out again in Egypt, with over a thousand people being injured in violent clashes on Friday, amid fears that the achievements of last winter's revolution could be lost.

The protesters are concerned that the interim military government seems to be increasing its control, possibly with the encouragement of the United States. Reforms are not being put through, many of former President Hosni Mubarak's cronies still hold power, and even the trial of the hated former interior minister has been adjourned.

"People are not getting what they thought they were getting [but] we're not hearing anything about it in the corporate news," journalist Afshin Rattansi told Russia Today. "It's as if that revolution's done and dusted and the Egyption people are fine."

Card - VISA

WikiLeaks prepares to sue Visa and MasterCard


WikiLeaks announced on Friday evening that it and service provider Datacell intend to sue Visa and MasterCard in Europe "for engaging in an unlawful, U.S. influenced, financial blockade."

The two credit card services blocked all payments to WikiLeaks last December, claiming that their "rules prohibit customers from directly or indirectly engaging in or facilitating any action that is illegal." They have maintained this claim, even though it is has never been determined that WikiLeaks is guilty of any crime.

According to the WikiLeaks press release, the credit card companies were told on June 9 that if their blockade against payments to WikiLeaks is not removed, suit will be filed against them with the Danish Maritime and Commercial Court and a request for prosecution will also be filed with the European Union.


The WikiLeaks You Missed

From blatant bribery in India to Hugo Chávez's war on Domino's pizza, here are the highlights from the last four months of the secret State Department cables.

© Unknown
Since the first few Julian Assange-saturated months of 2011, the U.S. media have largely moved on to Arab revolutions and other sex scandals. But WikiLeaks has continued releasing embassy cables -- fewer than 16,000 of the more than 250,000 have been published so far. In contrast to its early, now-frayed partnerships with the Guardian and the New York Times, WikiLeaks is now working with local papers in countries like Peru, Haiti, and Ireland to release cables of national interest. Here are a few of the highlights:

Bad Guys

Wikileaks: We are 'priceless,' so please donate (video)

We hope you survived the post-lunch slump without us. Sorry. Here's why we abandoned you.

But, to make it up to you, we're here for the when-do-I-get-out-of-here blues. So here's the pick-u-up!


US: Retired cop arrested in 1957 slaying of child

Maria Ridulph

Maria Ridulph, 7, was abducted while playing.
Authorities say an unstamped train ticket found among an ex-girlfriend's belongings unraveled a half-century-old alibi and led to the arrest of a Seattle man in connection with the slaying of a 7-year-old Illinois girl in 1957.

Jack Daniels McCullough, 71, is being held in King County Jail in lieu of $3 million bail and is awaiting extradition to Illinois, according to a statement by the Dekalb County State's Attorney Clay Campbell. He has been charged with murder in the death of Maria Ridulph in Sycamore, Ill.

McCullough, who changed his name from John Tessier in 1994, is a longtime Washington state resident who served as a police officer in Lacey and Milton, according to a document of probable cause. When he was arrested this week, he was working as the night watchman at The Four Freedoms House of Seattle, a 300-unit retirement home in North Seattle, where he lived with his wife.

The disappearance of Maria Ridulph in December 1957 terrorized the community of Sycamore, about 70 miles west of Chicago, and shocked the nation. Then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and President Dwight D. Eisenhower both took an active interest in the case, according to reports.

Maria's 8-year-old friend said the two girls had been playing in a neighbor's front yard when a man named "Johnny" came up and asked to give them a piggyback ride. The friend went inside for a moment, and when she returned, Maria was gone.

Maria's decomposed body was found five months later about 100 miles from her home.

Comment: Where have we heard the the "good guy" comment before? Oh right, with all of those serial killers who were "upstanding members of the community." That's the thing with psychopaths; they are so good at imitating human behavior they can seem more human than humans do.


Movie Review: New York Times Documentary 'Page One' is Bad News

© Magnolia Pictures Photo
The New York Times media columnist David Carr searches for his next scoop in the documentary Page One: Inside The New York Times.
The haughty reputation of The New York Times has taken several hits during the past decade, from Jayson Blair and Judith Miller to newsroom layoffs and dubious partnerships with folks like WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. But nothing undermined the Gray Lady quite like a 2009 article in The Atlantic declaring that the end of Times was near.

Was it really possible that the nation's "paper of record" was about to become journalism's Lehman Bros., gone in the blink of an eye? It sure seemed that way when its financial worth plummeted so precipitously that a share of Times stock became cheaper than the price of its Sunday paper. But reports of the Lady vanishing proved a bit premature, if not irresponsible.

It's no longer the bastion of journalism it once was in the days when it stuck its neck out publishing The Pentagon Papers, but it's still very much a thriving entity, as suggested in Page One: Inside The New York Times. For nearly a year, filmmakers Andrew Rossi and Kate Novack became what Rossi calls the proverbial "fly on the wall" at the paper's Midtown Manhattan headquarters, gaining access to not just the newsroom, but also departing Executive Editor Bill Keller and the roundtable meetings at which the top editors pitch and debate what stories they think belong on "A1."

Sounds fascinating, doesn't it? That's what I thought, too, until I was about 20 minutes into what proves to be a scatterbrained attempt at examining the who, what, where and why in relation to how the media can best disseminate the news to today's young, hip demographic. So, instead of nonstop insights into the politics and inner workings of the Times, we get a succession of plugs for blogger websites like newser.com and Vice magazine, not to mention a big kiss-up to Steve Jobs and the miracle of the iPad, which Page One all but declares to be the savior of the foundering print industry.


US: Former Youth Minister In Jail on Child Porn Charges

Michigan State Police say 45-year-old Enrique Alcaraz sent and received nude photographs of minor children.

Elsie resident, former member of the Ovid-Elsie School Board and former youth minister Enrique Alcaraz, 45, is facing 3 felony child pornography charges after a six month long investigation by Michigan State Police.

State Police say Alcaraz sent nude photographs to one child and received nude photographs from another child. State Police say Alcaraz used fake names on Facebook and Yahoo to contact minors, including Matt James, Mary Parker and Brad Merritt.

Alcaraz, known by some neighbors as "Rick", was elected to the Ovid-Elsie School Board last year and was a youth minister for the Church of the Living Word in Ovid. He resigned both positions in March. Neighbors also told WILX that Alcaraz appeared to be a foster parent.

"He just seemed to be good with kids, always having kids around," said John Anderson, who lived near Alcaraz in Elsie. "Rick Alcaraz was a good neighbor [and] friend. I never had any beefs with him or troubles [and] I really enjoyed his company."

Alcaraz has been arraigned on three charges which could carry up to 20 years in prison.